Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The cause of abuse

This is the core of complementarian teaching. This is foundational. Bruce Ware said these words,
    The very wise and good plan of God, of male headship, is sought to be overturned as women now, as sinners, want instead to have their way, instead of submitting to their husbands, to do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will, rather than serving them;

    and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged, or more commonly by becoming passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.
in a sermon at the Denton Bible Church, June 22, 2008. The teaching goes like this. God created marriage as an authority submission relationship. Eve's sin represents her rebellion against male authority. Eve rebels against her husband, and he responds by being abusive.

Marriage failure, for complementarians, is one of the two patterns, the wife rebels against submission and the husband is either abusive or passive in response. Note who sins first, who causes the mess in the first place. Christians should have nothing to do with this teaching. The doctrine of male headship as it is taught by complementarians like Dr. Ware, who summarizes the complementarian position for CBMW, is simply wrong. Why are we so hesitant to say this?

The discussion is continuing on Denny's Blog. Thanks Denny for keeping this open.

128 comments:

David Ker said...

Surely this isn't from this century!?!

One of the questions on a final exam for my students was to exegete 1 Tim. 2:12. They unanimously said something like, "Paul said this but we know that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and there are many women who preach the word."

I agree with their conclusion but not with their process. And despite their words, in this particular denomination and country women who preach are exceedingly rare.

I prefer a female colleagues strategy. She said she just skips passages like this!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

David,

Men and women are being exposed to this kind of teaching in droves. This is why I cannot approve of a middle way. This is not right.

I would give those students of yours a pass!

I don't care how many women preach. That is not the point.

Ellen said...

I must have missed the part where Ware said this is the only "reason" for abuse.

Certainly, in the marriage with conflicts that I know personally, when the wife is unsubmissive, the husband either gets wimpy or abusive. When the husband is unloving, the wife either gets wimpy or b... behaves like a dog that just had pups.

Is this a "reason" (in quotes because there is no valid reason for abuse)? Yes, in my experience.

Is this the ONLY reason? Not by a long shot. Sometimes people are just abusive jerks.

It is a mistake to take an example given and make it sound as if Ware teaches it as the ONLY reason.

Lindon said...

This is the same Ware that teaches that women are made in the 'indirect' image of God...a derivitive.

So this teaching of his on abuse does not surprise me one bit. I have been following him for a while now.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen

This is the foundation for Ware's teaching that women are under authority from creation and that marriage is an authority relationship.

Violent abuse is a pathology, it is not something that just crops up when a person is challenged. The challenge is the excuse that the abuser uses.

If the wife submits then the abuse grows until we have the situation documented by John Piper where the husband would not let the wife walk from one room to the other without permission.

So that women challenged her husband's authority whenever she wanted to go from one room to another without permission.

I am not saying that women cannot be abusive also. I am sure they can be. But abuse is triggered within th abuser, by internal anxieties. You need to read some books on abuse. That is why it cuts across all demographics.

This teaching is dangerous because it teaches the wife that she can potentially mitigate the abuse by being submissive. This is not possible in clssic abuse cases.

Marriage counselling should only be done by those who are trained.

Ellen said...

You are flat out saying that abuse is NEVER triggered by the actions of another?

A flat out statement that a whining child NEVER triggers abuse?


I am not saying that women cannot be abusive also. I am sure they can be.


I am sure that they ARE. Statistics say so and in waffling on the surety of it you deny help to both the abusive woman (although liberals often deny that woman can possibly be the abuser) and the abused - often children.

Ellen said...


This teaching is dangerous because it teaches the wife that she can potentially mitigate the abuse by being submissive. This is not possible in clssic abuse cases.


And I wouldn't have kicked the dog if it hadn't bitten me (note: that's an illustration, I have never kicked a dog on purpose)

Just A Berean said...

Ellen wrote: And I wouldn't have kicked the dog if it hadn't bitten me (note: that's an illustration, I have never kicked a dog on purpose)

Aside from the small point that women are not dogs and don't bite :), you are suggesting that one reason men abuse women is because women abuse first.

Among the numerous tainted and tweaked "studies" on abuse out there, there are some real studies from hospitals, doctors, police reports, etc. that show that women rarely abuse men first OR to the degree that men (the physically stronger) abuse women. In addition, teachings such as Dr. Ware's actually open the door NOT for women to abuse but for men to give free vent to their violent tendencies whether verbal, phycological or physical.

Ellen said...

Record this and repeat at needed:

Ware was stating a fact, not giving approval or permission.

If I state that a single mother is more likely to abuse her child than a married man, I am not opening the door for single mothers to abuse their children.

It is rather silly to say so, don't you think?

Ellen said...

Sue,

You are flat out saying that abuse is NEVER triggered by the actions of another?

A flat out statement that a whining child NEVER triggers abuse?

Anonymous said...

I think Dr. Ware has an emotional obsession with the idea of women submitting to and serving men. This is something that has to do with Dr. Ware personally, and is not necessarily biblical. People should study the Bible on their own rather than just take Dr. Ware's word that he is right about the marriage relationship. There are a lot of Christians emotionally obsessed with the idea of wives submitting to and serving their husbands, but this does mean they are understanding the bible correctly in its context. I think their obsession with female obedience clouds their judgement of what scripture is really saying.

Ellen said...

I think their obsession with female obedience clouds their judgement of what scripture is really saying.

I believe you are wrong. There have been numerous studies, just because you do not agree does not mean they do not exist.

Jeannie Babb Taylor said...

Ellen, 'to trigger' means 'to set off or initiate.' So I'll say it: A whining child NEVER triggers abuse.

Abusers abuse for one reason -- because they are abusers.

They are very fond of blaming their actions on the recipients, but no legitimate counselor, doctor, psychiatrist or pastor believes such garbage.

An abuser will abuse you "because" you spoke too softly. And if you speak louder the next time hoping to avoid abuse -- you will be abused "because" you spoke too loudly. Victims find they cannot win.

Telling women that submission will prevent abuse is a very sick sort of evil advice. It MAY delay the abuse, but in doing so it REWARDS the abuser for being abusive, which over time will increase the abuse.

Delaying abuse is not necessarily a good thing, anyway. Abuse is a cycle with a buildup, explosion, and then 'honeymoon.' In many cases, the longer the buildup takes, the bigger the explosion. Victims often realize this long before they can articulate it. They learn that sometimes standing up to the abuser means more frequent abusive episodes, but with less intensity. Abusers would say they are "provoking" the abuse, but what they are really doing is just refusing to behave like doormats 100% of the time.

Candice said...

Its pretty basic actually, its called OWN YOUR OWN PILE OF CRAP. if you can't, which abusers DON'T, then nothing will ever get through to them. it is pathological. it is about ownership. and believe me, everything that abusers do is deliberate and thought out. There is nothing "innocent" about it.
A child is never responsible for being abused. Ever. no matter how outrageous the behaviour the responsibility is ALWAYS on the adult to act like the ADULT.

That is why passing this off on women is yet another weird paradigm about the whole hierarchy in marriage. Though men are "ultimately responsible", they in fact are not because they cannot be expected to control themselves in situations where "provoked" or where too much ankle shows.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

How do I not know that you aren't obsessed with female obedience? Everything you have said on this forum makes me believe you are.

Lin said...

"Telling women that submission will prevent abuse is a very sick sort of evil advice."

Abusers are basically bullies. And Jeanie is right...there is a no win for the victim because anything at anytime can trigger abuse. It is inherent and it is sin.

Submission will make it WORSE. That is why Ware's advice is sick. That lack of submission does not trigger it but submission could actually make it worse. Bullies love cowards and only pick on those they know they can bully.

Think of this parallel: Submit to Osama bin Laden and the terror will stop. No. Submission will only give him more power. He even said that he thought we were cowards and would not fight back.

He was wrong. I am not advocating women fighting back with violence...they should fight back by leaving and protecting themselves and the children.

Ware may not have condoned spouse abuse but he did, most certainly, excuse it and make it the wife's fault by implication.

I have been reading and listening to him for sometime now. I think his teaching is very dangerous and I agree with anonymous:

"I think Dr. Ware has an emotional obsession with the idea of women submitting to and serving men."

As a matter of fact, Christendom is obsessed with this whole issue of 'roles', authority and submission.

When someone spends so much time as he does on trying to prove earthly authorities it can only lead us AWAY from Christ. And it makes me wonder why the focus. If we all, men and women seek first the Kingdom then all these things....

Corrie said...

I suppose a whining child triggers abuse from a parent in the same way that a woman jogging down a path triggers the man hiding in the bushes to rape her, torture her and murder her.

I suppose a whining child triggers abuse from a parent in much the same way citizens who rise up against an abusive government trigger the fascist regime to murder them in the town's square.

Jesus never spoke of triggers. He didn't tell the man who was lusting after a woman that she triggered that lust because her robe was a little tight across her backside.

The Christian life is about self-control, self-examination, responsibility and self-government. The evil we do comes from within, not from without.

An abuser sees things in a very skewed way. An abuser, especially a bully and tyrant, sees insubordination in the simplest of activities.

The concept of "triggers" is not too biblical, imho.

Bruce Ware's comment gives abusers dangerous ammo. Abusers look for excuses for why they are abusive and they always blame their victims. That is the way of an abusive person.

Corrie said...

Lin,

"Submission will make it WORSE. That is why Ware's advice is sick. That lack of submission does not trigger it but submission could actually make it worse. Bullies love cowards and only pick on those they know they can bully."

This is so true.

Bullies become enraged with those they view to be "weak". The weaker and more subservient the person becomes, the more enraged and abusive an abuser becomes.

There is an evil in this world that loves to see the suffering of those it perceives as "weaker". Serial killers often prey on their victims precisely because they are seen as vulnerable. It is the very vulnerability that causes them to crave more and more.

Shall we say that a woman's vulnerability and physical weakness and gentleness trigger murder/torture/rape at times?

I would like Ware to define what he means by women who want their own way and who do what they like to do and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will? Because most of the women I know who are literally like this are NOT abused because their husbands would NOT dare.

Also, is it the husband's biblical right to have his own way, do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their wives fulfill their will, rather than serving their wives like the Bible instructs them to do?

It seems like Ware is saying that this is the function of the head and that unsubmissive women overturn it and expect the things only a husband has a right to expect.

Ellen said...

Congratulations...you all must have been perfect parents to not have felt that temptation.

Corrie said...

Ellen,

"And I wouldn't have kicked the dog if it hadn't bitten me (note: that's an illustration, I have never kicked a dog on purpose)"

Excuse me?

If a dog bites you, you have every right to kick it in self-defense if that is what you think will get it to stop biting you.

Are you saying that if a dog bites you, it is sin to react and defend one's self, even by force if necessary?

I think you are mixing things up a bit, here. I don't see the comparison with being attacked by an animal and defending one's self from such an attack and a man who hits his wife. Do you?

Corrie said...

Ellen,

"Ware was stating a fact, not giving approval or permission.

If I state that a single mother is more likely to abuse her child than a married man, I am not opening the door for single mothers to abuse their children.

It is rather silly to say so, don't you think?"

I think you are confusing matters again.

One is a matter of statistics. The other is misinformed.

If single mother abuse their children more than married fathers then that is backed up with fact.

Can you quantitatively measure your assertion that "unsubmissive" women cause their husbands to sometimes abuse them?

I don't know many unsubmissive women who are abused. I do know quite a few submissive women who have been abused.

I would like to see the data for your assertion.

And what came first? Maybe it was the abuse that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"? Or maybe it was the passivity that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"?

Why is it never taught that way? Why is the underling always being blamed for the superiors behavior? That seems backwards, to me, and much like a double-bind for the underling.

Is a man ever passive apart from the cause of a woman? I haven't seen any hard comp/pat assert this. The feminists and unsubmissive women get the blame for causing passivity in men. How come no comps/pats ever take people to task for those sorts of statements?

Corrie said...

Ellen,

"I must have missed the part where Ware said this is the only "reason" for abuse."

I must have missed the part where Suzanne said that this was the "only" reason for abuse.

Corrie said...

One more thing....

Ellen, whoever said they did not feel like doing something abusive to a whining child?

Please. This IS putting words in people's mouths.

A child who whines does NOT trigger abuse. Period.

Maybe the parent triggered the child to whine by provoking them to anger?

Ellen said...

And what came first? Maybe it was the abuse that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"? Or maybe it was the passivity that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"?

Well, according to you all, there's only one direction.

Bonnie said...

Ellen,

Is Ware’s point that there are various reasons that men abuse (or take the passive route), or is it that men sometimes abuse/take the passive route when their authority is challenged by their wife? Is he not saying that it is wrong for a wife to challenge her husband and holding her at least partially responsible for her husband's poor behavior?

Ware’s statement belies a double standard: the husband wanting his wife to get on board with his will and seek to work toward its fulfillment is called “authority,” whereas the same desire in the wife is called “sinful.” Ware says that the abuse and passivity of the husband is sinful but not his desire to exploit his wife, and that her desire not to be exploited is sinful.

This is wrong.

Ellen said...

I must have missed the part where Suzanne said that this was the "only" reason for abuse.

NOBODY says that it is.

What I have asked is "You are flat out saying that abuse is NEVER triggered by the actions of another?"

If an unsubmissive attitude leads to abusive behavior, then Suzanne at least own that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Don't these verses contradict Bruce Ware's teaching:

Mark 10:45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Luke 22:25-27
25Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

In Mark 10:45 doesn't Jesus say he came to serve, not to be served. Isn't it the husband who is asked to love his wife as much as Christ loved the church, therefore shouldn't we be talking about the husband serving the wife rather than vice versa as Bruce Ware does?

And In Luke 22:25-27 doesn't Jesus say we should not be seeking authority over each other, yet that is precisely what Bruce Ware does in his interpretation of Ephesians 5.

I think Bruce Ware is taking the submission verses in the Bible out of their proper context.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

You said:

What I have asked is "You are flat out saying that abuse is NEVER triggered by the actions of another?"

YES - ABUSE IS NEVER TRIGGERED BY THE ACTIONS OF ANOTHER! Abuse is always triggered only by whatever is going on inside the abuser, and is never the responsibility of the one being abused! NEVER, EVER, EVER!

Ellen said...

Ellen, whoever said they did not feel like doing something abusive to a whining child?

People are tempted to sin.

Sometimes they fall. Does the sin belong to the own who fell? absolutely.

But people are tempted. I know that I am.

Ellen said...

Is he not saying that it is wrong for a wife to challenge her husband and holding her at least partially responsible for her husband's poor behavior?

I know that at times I was at least partially responsible for my husband's poor behavior.
\
YES - ABUSE IS NEVER TRIGGERED BY THE ACTIONS OF ANOTHER! Abuse is always triggered only by whatever is going on inside the abuser, and is never the responsibility of the one being abused! NEVER, EVER, EVER!

Bad behavior NEVER, EVER, EVER tempted anybody into poor behavior of their own.

And certainly no whiny child NEVER, EVER, EVER tempted a parent into smacking them.

Is the poor behavior the responsibility of the parent or the one tempted? Yes. Was there temptation present? Unless the one subjected to whining is a saint walking on earth, yes. Do people sometimes fall to temptation? I know for sure that I do.

It is a special person indeed that NEVER, EVER, EVER falls to the temptation of striking out at provoking behavior.

Anonymous said...

Here's another verse that contradicts Bruce Ware's take on Ephesians 5:

Phillipians 2

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Jesus humbled himself to the point of being a servant, if husbands are supposed to be like Christ shouldn't they be humbling themselves as a servant to their wives? Yet Ware only talks about the wive serving, and not the husband.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

You are just making excuses for the poor behavior of abusers and for Dr. Ware's abusive teaching.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

Husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church, did you ever know Christ to abuse the church under any circumstances because the church had imperfections in its behavior?

Yes, at times a loving husband may abuse their wife, but they will also repent of that abuse. They will not blame it on their wife's poor behavior. After all, Christ never abuses us no matter how we treat him.

Anonymous said...

"It is a special person indeed that NEVER, EVER, EVER falls to the temptation of striking out at provoking behavior.

2:14 PM

Ellen, you are starting to sound silly...going down this sinless perfection route. You have NO clue about spouse abuse or you would not say what you have said here.

I was a spouse abuse counselor and crisis shelter volunteer for 10 years. I have seen it all. I have seen the Police chief's wife come in a taxi wearing her housecoat at 3 am with black eyes. I have seen pastors visit abused women and tell them he is sorry and they are in sin for not coming back...that they are being unforgiving and not submissive...even though he has said that each time for the last 4 years.

When it comes to abuse, the woman never knows what is going to provoke it. It can be different each time. It could be his boss but he can't hit his boss without severe consequences so he goes home and anything his wife does provokes abuse. So it is nothing that provokes it and everything that provokes it.

I get this sad feeling you will feel vindicated and say that I am admitting that SHE provoked it. Or that the behavior was provoked. That is so evil to think that way and that is NOT what our Lord teaches us in Matthew 5.

So many of these women walk on eggshells because they have no idea what it will be next and they spend so much time blaming themselves anyway. And here you and Ware just add to that nonsense.

The focus is on the wrong person. Spouse abuse ALWAYS esculates. And the highter income status or religious an abuser claims, the more it is hidden for years. And it just keeps esculating until it becomes unbearable. It usually starts with destroying property: A fist through a wall, breaking something she likes, pinning her down, slap, hit, battering. I have seen broken ribs, damaged spleens, heads split open, you name it.

I beg you to stop playing into abusers hands with your excuse of who provokes nonsense. It is evil. If we are saved, yes we are tempted to hit but the HOly Spirit quickly convicts us and we are groaning under the weight of our depravity. We cannot claim to be saved and continue walking in darkness. See Hebrews 10: 26-31. And Read 1 John.

Oh how I wish you could see the families ruined by this. The children scared for life with a lack of trust...esp when they see pastors and elders telling the mom to go back.

You know what is the worst part of it? The children end up despising the mother who submits to the abuse! I have seen it over and over

Lydia

Ellen said...

You know what is the worst part of it? The children end up despising the mother who submits to the abuse!

Also sad...the fact that you assume it's always the woman that is abused.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

This is from a different anonymous than Lydia. Your theology allows female spousal abuse but not male spousal abuse. You said to the other anonymous (Lydia) "the fact that you assume it's always the woman that is abused." Until your theology treats both women and men fairly, you don't have a right to say that, and yours doesn't.

Ellen said...


This is from a different anonymous than Lydia. Your theology allows female spousal abuse but not male spousal abuse. You said to the other anonymous (Lydia) "the fact that you assume it's always the woman that is abused." Until your theology treats both women and men fairly, you don't have a right to say that, and yours doesn't.


I have repeatedly said that spousal abuse is the sin of the abuser. So I cry "bull"

Anonymous said...

The incidence of a wife abusing her husband is quite low and if it gets to the report stage, it almost always is because of being abused and she fought back You don't get many 'Burning Beds'.

So if there is one incidence of a woman abusing her husband out of every 4000 women being abused by their husbands, I suppose that balances it out for you. And that is about the balance of reports.

I am simply amazed at the lengths some will go to blame women for a man's behavior as if he is a child. Ironic that the man is treated like a child who has no control yet the woman is responsible for his behavior.

This attitude is very common in Patriarchal Christian circles. It is also very common in Islamic cultures. The woman is blamed for provoking the man even when it comes to rape and she is wearing a burqua! She provoked it.

But our Lord teaches us different about personal behavior and our reactions to what is done to us.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

" have repeatedly said that spousal abuse is the sin of the abuser. So I cry "bull""

No Ellen, you are changing the subject. You have consistently focused on the provocation for the abuse.

Lydia

Ellen said...


No Ellen, you are changing the subject. You have consistently focused on the provocation for the abuse.


That's what the post was about...it seems fairly fitting that what I write about.

You all say that it CANNOT happen.

I say that it can, but the abuse is still the responsibility and sin of the abuser.

Until your theology treats both women and men fairly, you don't have a right to say that, and yours doesn't.

Read my very first comment...the third on this post. I ran it both directions...the husband sins first or the wife sins first and both reactions are sin.

So yes...I cry bull.

Ellen said...

The incidence of a wife abusing her husband is quite low...

In 2004, it was reported that in the previous five years more than half a million men in Canada had a female partner who was violent toward them. The woman might have been a wife, an ex-wife or a common-law partner. This means about seven per cent of men in intimate relationships with women have experienced abuse or violence from their partners.1

How many is too many? I think that we should try to help on ANYBODY with an abuse issue. Abuse is sin. No matter who is the abuser.

Ellen said...

The incidence of a wife abusing her husband is quite low and if it gets to the report stage, it almost always is because of being abused and she fought back

It sounds as if you are saying that if an abused male came to you, the assumption would be that "he started it".

Remember, no abuse is EVER triggered by the victim? Or does it only go one way?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Both men and women are abused by their partners. Both men and women are abusers. That is a fact.

The problem is that Ware said that

"husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged, or more commonly by becoming passive"

He does not say that women abuse because their authority is threatened. Women have no authority for Ware.

There should be a balanced attitude against abuse on both sides equally. That is why it is wrong to teach that the husband has authority over the wife. The husband then believes that he is entitled to his way. This is dangerous.

Calling abuse on the part of the husband a response to sin on the part of the wife is simply irresponsible.

Ellen said...

That is why it is wrong to teach that the husband has authority over the wife. The husband then believes that he is entitled to his way.

Authority is not sin. The husband being entitled to his way is not Ware's teaching. Some may distort it, but it is not the teaching.


Calling abuse on the part of the husband a response to sin on the part of the wife is simply irresponsible.


Will you then call it irresponsible for Lydia to say, "The incidence of a wife abusing her husband is quite low and if it gets to the report stage, it almost always is because of being abused and she fought back..."

Lydia is saying that a wife abusing her husband is almost always because he abused first. Same thing...other direction.

Ellen said...

Before anybody jumps...no, this does not make any abuse right.

Abuse is sin...no matter who does it.

Even Ware (in your quote) says the response is because men are sinners...the response is sin.

Anonymous said...

Ellen,

You are too anti-female for me. I'm not engaging in this discussion anymore.

Ellen said...

You're right, anonymous...it's only sin if it's a man doing it.

Question: how do you blame men for abuse if it's a lesbian couple?

Ellen said...

Question: am I "anti-female" because I think women should be held to the same standard as men?

Because I recognize both as sinners and possible culprits?

Or because I smell something in a thread that says if a man abuses a woman, it is NEVER, EVER, EVER triggered by anything the woman does...but if a woman abuses a man, it is almost always triggered by something the man does?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

This comment box is unmoderated. I consider everyone a friend and I do not think that calling someone "anti-female" is useful or kind. Other than this I am very grateful for those who support my posting against the teachings of Bruce Ware, which I consider to be inapropriate.

I consider Ellen a friend although my beliefs on male headship are diametrically opposed to hers.

As I said, men and women can both be abusers and the statistics vary significantly so I won't quote any.

My understanding is that a sense of personal entitlement, no matter where that comes from, feeds abuse. Male headship, that is the centrality of authority and submission in a marriage, are to my way of thinking, male entitlement. The male is entitled to more authority than the female. This is quite simply wrong and dangerous.

Ellen said...

Thank you, Suzanne. And ditto. If we are ever in the same city, I would be delighted to have coffee and dinner.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, hmm, well we had better talk about something else. :-) Our jobs, hiking, something like that.

We all write from our own pain.

I intend to continue my protest against these teachings. To my mind they do not represent anything that is good about either traditional or contemporary gender relations.

Bonnie said...

Ellen,

The husband being entitled to his way is not Ware's teaching. Some may distort it, but it is not the teaching.

Then why did he say what is quoted at the top of Suzanne's post? Ware clearly says that the husband is entitled to his way (calling it his authority) and may be provoked to abuse or passivity if he doesn't get it.

You took one part of my comment above and responded to it out of context. I was saying that Ware holds the wife responsible for challenging her husband's will, which he equates with the husband's authority. The two are not the same. It is one thing for the sin of the wife to provoke her husband, yet quite another for her simple refusal to completely deny her own will in favor of serving only her husband's, which is not sin, to provoke her husband. Such provocation would be a result of narcissism and desire to exploit her on the part of her husband, not a challenge to his "authority."

Anonymous said...

Ellen, the context of this discussion is male authority over a woman in a marriage. That is the context. That is Ware's context. I am sorry I did not document that each comment.

My point was that in that context Ware is teaching that women are to be submissive to a bully.

Now, my experience showed me that the incidence of women abusing husbands is very low and when they do it is almost always after prolonged abuse...a self defense posture which can be very dangerous. Sorry, but that is what I saw in court as a advocate.

I apologize for not reminding you of the context of this whole discussion. I assumed (wrongly) that most comps would expect the one given authority over another (supposedly by God) would be expected to be more spiritually mature if they are professing Christians. But it does not work that way which is why our Lord taught mutual submission of all Christians to one another.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

"Question: am I "anti-female" because I think women should be held to the same standard as men?"

But they are not held to the same standard by Ware. In his view, one has authority over another. Yet, Ware holds the woman to a higher standard than the abuser. That is the whole point.

Ellen said...

I hold a female abuser to the same standard as a male abuser.

The teaching that male leadership is about a man "getting his way" is the distortion. A manager with the good of his company in mind will put his own interests aside for the good of the company.

A husband with the good of his wife and his marriage in mind will put his own interests aside for the good of the Kingdom, the marriage and his wife. The concept of selfishness is not part of the teaching and is called "sin".

Ellen said...

Yet, Ware holds the woman to a higher standard than the abuser.

Really. The man is called a sinner because he is reacting with sin.

Is that a lower standard? CBMW has an article that soundly condemns spousal abuse. Abuse is sin and it is called sin.

(I believe that abuse is sin, no matter who is doing the abusing)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Lydia,

My sense is that if we broaden the definition of abuse, women are equally abusive. However, women are not as strong, and there is not the same teaching of female entitlement. So I accept what you have seen.

But this discussion is not about which sex is the greater sinner. We are all fallible humans. It is about the deep concern for how wrong it is to teach that one sex has rights above and over the other.

How can we present to Denny or any other complementarian who will listen how wrong the teaching of male authority is?

How can we come together even across our differences to affirm, whether we are traditional or egalitarian, that men and women should have equal authority in marriage.

Some complementarians call this "authority and boundary setting," or "authority" for the husband, and "Christian liberty" for the wife. No matter what, mutuality and interdependence are essential for one not to wipe out the other.

Maybe we should forge a joint petition and ask the blogging community to sign it.

Lin said...

"How can we present to Denny or any other complementarian who will listen how wrong the teaching of male authority is?"

Suzanne, Just my opinion on this. I was in the comp world for many years. But, I kept seeing contradictions in scripture that I refused to deal with. Over time, I could not ignore them and I noticed them being explained away with more and more grandiose explanations. Example: Prophesying is NOT preaching. (The Puritans thought it was!)

So, I started studying and saw how bad most of the translations are in this respect. I was pretty stunned. I am not a Greek Scholar like you but I saw enough to make me pray like crazy!

I believe only the Holy Spirit can reveal this to someone. For one reason, so many of the people we are talking to make a living from their comp view. A lot of their life revolves around this view in seminary and the pulpit with books, talks, seminars, literature, etc.

You have seen how so many ignore obvious research and questions about word translations, etc. They do NOT want to see it.

I know I sound gloomy but I am not at all. I do not worry about the comps who have a vested positional or money interest in this view...I consider those who are questioning and searching because they, too, have seen the contradictions. They are gifted by the Holy Spirit and want to use those gifts for the Glory of our Lord. Those are the ones that concern me.

Because I was involved in Christian marketing, I saw how much money the comp view rakes in. People love formulas and check lists...they love having 'roles' to play and defining 'Biblical Womanhood' with a few proof texts.

My biggest concern at this point is that we cannot peacefully coexist. More and more we are seeing that comps are implying that egals are in sin. We are compared to allowing homosexuals in the Body when being a woman who wants to proclaim the Word is not a sin! Homosexuality is. I could make the same strawman argument that Patriarchal cultures lead to more spouse abuse and there is even proof historically that Patriarchal cultures are more homosexual! It is just hidden better.

If they could stop implying that we are in sin for our belief of mutual submission, we could peacefully co-exist. Most of us follow Christ. Not man. And more and more of us are quite conservative on primary doctrines.

But, I really believe they demand we accept their interpretation. Remember, I was around many of them for years. And I am talking about the ones who write the books and make big bucks on the seminars.

Corrie said...

"And what came first? Maybe it was the abuse that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"? Or maybe it was the passivity that caused the woman to become "unsubmissive"?

Well, according to you all, there's only one direction."

Ellen,

Again, you are the one guilty of putting words in people's mouths, not Suzanne.

Where did I say it only goes one way?

I am purposefully using YOUR and Ware's reasoning and applying it in the reverse direction.

But, why are you not concerned that with comps/pats it only goes one way? They are constantly blaming the woman/feminists/females for all the evils of mankind- men are passive because of women, men are abusive because of women, etc.

When have you heard comps/pats repeatedly claim that we have feminists because of abusive males? We certainly hear, ad nauseum, that we have passive/abusive males because of rebellious and feministic women, don't we?

If you had been actually reading my posts, objectively, you would not have been able to make such a trite and uncalled for comment.

Could you just answer the question? Why couldn't it flow the other way in the comp/pat viewpoint? Why does it always flow from woman to man- the woman being the catalyst for the man's sin?

Corrie said...

"You know what is the worst part of it? The children end up despising the mother who submits to the abuse!

Also sad...the fact that you assume it's always the woman that is abused."

Like Ware assumes that it is always the woman who causes the man to sin?

You are not being fair, Ellen.

No one has assumed that it is "always the woman".

After all, we are specifically speaking about men abusing women BECAUSE OF WARE'S STATEMENT ABOUT HOW MEN REACT IN VIOLENCE TO WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE "UNSUBMISSIVE" OR "CHALLENGE THEIR AUTHORITY".

Now you want to change the tables without informing us?

Let us specifically address Ware's statement like we have all been doing from the beginning.

He is the one who brought up men abusing women in reaction to some perceived rebellion to his so-called authority on her part.

So, let us stay with that thought and not go and assume things that are not true.

After we hammer out Ware's statement, we could move on to your new subject of women abusing men.

Corrie said...

"Or because I smell something in a thread that says if a man abuses a woman, it is NEVER, EVER, EVER triggered by anything the woman does...but if a woman abuses a man, it is almost always triggered by something the man does?"

Who said this?

I believe people are saying that abuse is ALWAYS the fault of the ABUSER, no ifs, ands or buts and no blame-shifting.

I am very concerned about Ware's perspective and his thoughts about what headship entitles a man to in regard to his wife. He uses the word "overturn" when he speaks of a woman who has a will of her own which gives the the very strong impression that a husband, the head, is entitled to the very things that the wife is supposedly wanting when she overturns the roles and puts herself in the husband's place.

Most of Ware's statement is perception on the part of the male. If he perceives that his wife is challenging his authority.....then he may react in one of two ways. But, what exactly does it take for a woman to be guilty of what Ware describes? That is what troubles me about his statement.

Ellen said...

Who said this?

Lydia

"The incidence of a wife abusing her husband is quite low and if it gets to the report stage, it almost always is because of being abused and she fought back..."


I believe people are saying that abuse is ALWAYS the fault of the ABUSER, no ifs, ands or buts and no blame-shifting.


Lydia isn't.

But, what exactly does it take for a woman to be guilty of what Ware describes? That is what troubles me about his statement.

I believe that no matter what the supposed cause, he still said that abuse is a sinful response. Abuse is sin. CBMW agrees.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is Kostenberger in his book on God, Marriage and Family,

As far as the woman's relationship with her husband is concerned, loving harmony will be replaced by a pattern of struggle n which the woman seeks to exert control over her husband, who responds by asserting his authority - often in an ungodly manner by either passively forcing her into action or actively dominating her.

page 38

Ellen said...


After all, we are specifically speaking about men abusing women BECAUSE OF WARE'S STATEMENT ABOUT HOW MEN REACT IN VIOLENCE TO WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE "UNSUBMISSIVE" OR "CHALLENGE THEIR AUTHORITY".


I believe that Ware was speaking DESCRIPTIVELY NOT PRESCRIPTIVELY. HE EVEN SAID THAT ABUSE IS A SINFUL REACTION! (See, I can shout also.)


Also sad...the fact that you assume it's always the woman that is abused."

Like Ware assumes that it is always the woman who causes the man to sin?


Except that's not what he said. You should read the CBMW statement on abuse. It doesn't blame women and neither does Ware. He calls the abuse SIN.


He is the one who brought up men abusing women in reaction to some perceived rebellion to his so-called authority on her part.

So, let us stay with that thought and not go and assume things that are not true.


Oh yes...let's. Like saying that Ware blames women (he calls abuse a SINFUL reaction) The men are still responsible and to blame for their sinful action and Ware never said anything different.


Where did I say it only goes one way? ...

If you had been actually reading my posts, objectively, you would not have been able to make such a trite and uncalled for comment.


Except that I am able to quote Lydia saying that if a woman abused, it is almost always a man's fault for "starting it" (my words).

If you had kept track, you would not have made such a trite and uncalled for statement.

Lin, I do not believe that egalitarians have any intent of leaving complementarian churches alone.

Ask Suzanne if she would be content to be silent about complementarian churches? Or would she rather start a petition and would she rather see Grudem and Ware silenced?

Ellen said...

Could you just answer the question? Why couldn't it flow the other way in the comp/pat viewpoint? Why does it always flow from woman to man- the woman being the catalyst for the man's sin?

If you would like to read my very first comment on this thread (and the 3rd comment period), you might notice that I did give examples in both directions.

And at 5:46 called attention to that same comment.

Would you like to rephrase the accusation?

Ellen said...


After we hammer out Ware's statement, we could move on to your new subject of women abusing men.


I'd love to. Start here. Not quire the picture Lydia sees. And I'm sure that as part of the court system, not part of the psychological system, she does see a different picture. (that's a simple statement, not an accusation.)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

The crucial difference is that in this teaching abuse by a female is the revolt of a woman against proper authority.

But, the abuse by a male is the response to abuse by a female.

Personally, I think that abuse by a male or by a female is the responsibility of the abuser.

Ellen said...

So what do you do when it's a lesbian relationship? (Lesbian couples experience abuse at roughly the same percentages as heterosexual couples.

Ware's teaching doesn't describe the behavior of the woman as abusive - although it may be.

In the couples that I know personally, it is in egalitarian marriages where I see abusive women more often (and mostly verbally, emotionally and sexually-neglectful - using sex as a weapon).

The one point I wish to make is that Ware describes abuse as a sinful reaction - and doesn't even say that it is ongoing and chronic...it could very well be one angry outburst that he still (and all of us still) would call "sin".

and the other point is that abuse runs in both directions.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

Unless someone has clinical experience I am not going to be swayed by personal anecdotes as statistically significant. I have shared and listened to enough.

Agreed, abuse runs in both directions, and forget the percentage.

Why is it that over and over again, complementarians say that the woman exerts her will wrongly and the man, in response, exerts his will wrongly.

Why is it so unbalanced? This theology is wrong.

Greg Anderson said...

Suzanne,

I have followed with avid interest your posts both here and at Burke's blog. I'm quite surprised really, that you haven't been booted from Burke's blog yet.

I recall an instance awhile back when you were ejected from one unnamed blog with all the pomposity and religious fervor that John Winthrop used when he kicked Anne Hutchinson out of Massachusetts.

What are they afraid of? It would appear that every time they are confronted with "embarrassing" data which cannot be easily swept under their theological rugs, they resort to grandstanding and other disingenuous tactics.

Fortunately, they can't do to you what the Jesuit Cardinals did to Galileo.

Ferg said...

Thank you for posting this Suazanne and for your continued dialogue on Denny Burkes website. I have learned a lot from what you have written. Blessings...

scott gray said...

i'm in over my head, here, admittedly.

i don't think 'triggers' for abuse are about what others 'make' one do. i think the abuser sees the 'triggers' as justification for what the abuser is doing.

i live in the u.s. the governing system we use here is, at least theoretically, about the governed determining who are the governed. when those governing are no longer competent, or moral and ethical, the governed have the authority to remove them. authority is about justification for one's choices, as well. for a person to 'claim' authority without it being freely given goes against the grain of the way i was brought up about the positive aspects of authority. to use authority as justification to abuse is problematic.

ware's statements are problematic because they are used for justification for abusive and inappropriate authority.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...

Suzanne, one of the things that you're just going to have to deal with is that complementarians have a firm religious conviction that Godly male leadership in the home and church is right and good. With that conviction, a woman who attempts to "grab the reins" is usurping leadership and is doing so wrongly.

The response can(MAY) be sinful.

scott gray said...

or, one can step out of the immoral, unethical paradigm completely.

ellen, your conclusions are not reasoned from evidence, rather they are made from an emotional need. what emotional need do you have that allows you to use scripture to justify immoral behavior? some sort of satisfaction? security?

Ellen said...


ellen, your conclusions are not reasoned from evidence


Which conclusion?

The conclusion that complementarians believe that Godly male authority is good?

rather they are made from an emotional need.

The need to do and be what I believe to be the most Scriptural. And you?

what emotional need do you have that allows you to use scripture to justify immoral behavior?

You need to first prove to me that a Godly, loving man loving his wife as Christ loves the church is behaving in an immoral way. That has yet to be done.

Lin, about your comment from yesterday..."More and more we are seeing that comps are implying that egals are in sin."...and here you have an egal implying that whatever conclusion he is speaking of is "immoral"...

some sort of satisfaction? security?

The satisfaction of reflecting the church within a Godly marriage. Do you think that immoral?

I have yet to call anybody immoral or anti-anything in this thread.

Yet I have been called anti-female and accused of using Scripture to justify immoral behavior.

And Lin says it is the comps that call egalitarianism "sin".

Thanks.

Ellen said...

or, one can step out of the immoral, unethical paradigm completely.

Scott - are you referring to complementarianism as immoral and unethical?

scott gray said...

ellen--

you said: The satisfaction of reflecting the church within a Godly marriage. Do you think that immoral?

i'd say if reflecting abuse within churches is part of what you specifically allow, or tolerate, or god forbid advocate, then yes, your position is immoral.

and yes, i think you do use scripture to justify immoral behavior.

where did you perceive that i'm an 'egal?' whatever that is. i'm an american citizen, fully in favor of liberal democracy (the governed choose their own leaders). we have freedom of religion in this country. no woman, or man, is forced to participate in a hierarchical religious paradigm except by choice. i recommend that all women leave immoral paradigms, religious or otherwise, whenever they can't change them.

at a dead run.

with their girl (and boy) children tucked under their arms.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...


ellen, your conclusions are not reasoned from evidence, rather they are made from an emotional need.


Is there a reason you make this personal judgment against me? (For the record, I have yet to make a judgment about the personal forces that bring a person to a theology here. That has been done, but not by a comp.)

Ellen said...


i'd say if reflecting abuse within churches is part of what you specifically allow, or tolerate, or god forbid advocate, then yes, your position is immoral.


I challenge you to quote me where I have said that abuse is not sin. Where I have advocated using violence (verbal, physical, emotional or sexual) as a weapon or valid option. Please...show me.

(I reject completely that complementarianism is abuse)

scott gray said...

ellen--

it's not a judgement against you. it's an observation on my part about what you've written, based on the evidence i see. it's a judgement about you, not against you. we all reach conclusions from emotional need, mixed with evidence in varying degrees. i'm asking about the emotional need part of your conclusion-reaching. what do you feel about the conclusion you've reached?

peace--

scott

scott gray said...

ellen--

didn't i read earlier that you smack your children when they whine?

that's immoral.

from your icon, you like like the kind of person who could come up with alternative solutions.

peace--

scott

scott gray said...

ellen--

you tolerate abuse. you justify this tolerant stance with scripture.

you have to decide whether or not abuse is of significant negative value to be called out and changed, not tolerated and defended. if abuse were of significant negative value to you, you would not tolerate it.

we only truly tolerate positions of others that we feel have no value. tolerating a position that is of high negative value, like abuse, is silent collaboration.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...

you tolerate abuse. you justify this tolerant stance with scripture

Quote me please? If not, please reconsider the accusation.

Ellen said...

didn't i read earlier that you smack your children when they whine?

Quote please? If not, please reconsider the accusation.

scott gray said...

ellen--

you said: "Certainly, in the marriage with conflicts that I know personally, when the wife is unsubmissive, the husband either gets wimpy or abusive."

so what are you personally doing about this? if tolerating it, then you are a silent collaborator. and if you feel abuse has strong negative value, that's immoral.

peace--

scott

scott gray said...

ellen--

and i was wrong about you smacking your children. upon rereading, i see that it was just a strawman you were building.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...


so what are you personally doing about this? if tolerating it, then you are a silent collaborator. and if you feel abuse has strong negative value, that's immoral.


In the abusive marriages, I suggest the wife leave and be in a safe place. In fact, I did so yesterday.

Thanks, though.

scott gray said...

ellen--

good for you for encouraging the safety of others in abusive settings.

there are a variety of studies done that show that hierarchical relationships reified and sanctioned by a nation, ethnic group, or religious paradigm often lead to abuse, and worse, in my view, to systemic tolerance of abuse.

if i can find them again in my stack of articles, i'll share them with you. authority, if not freely given to another, too often leads to some kind of abuse.

the way to avoid abuse, when one can, is to avoid participating voluntarily in sanctioned hierarchical paradigms. if one is compelled to participate, one can at least prophetically denounce abuse that happens, and denounce any sanctioning, to include justification by sacred documents, of tolerance of abuse.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...

the way to avoid abuse, when one can, is to avoid participating voluntarily in sanctioned hierarchical paradigms.

Then we should get out of churches with elders, countries with governments, jobs with managers and schools with teachers.

Anonymous said...

"Except that I am able to quote Lydia saying that if a woman abused, it is almost always a man's fault for "starting it" (my words)."

I hope that I cleared that up a few comments later. I was remiss not to include context of Ware's teaching on male authority within the situation. I hope I made it clear that in my experience, in the few cases I have seen go to court, a woman abused and bullied for years will respond in self defense because abuse always esculates. (And yes, this is anecdotal. I apologize for that). It was also evident the woman in this abusive situation knew she might be killed for fighting back and was to the point she did not care. It is wrong for her to do this. And it is dangerous as it only esculates the violence. Yes, it is sin to repay evil with evil.

So, Ellen, I apologize for not being more clear in my communication.

In any event, Suzanne is right to redirect the conversation back to her original intent. I apologize if I got things off on a rabbit trail.

It is such a misunderstanding of true scripture to give human beings power over another. It is not the teaching of Christ. Even Christ did not exert His authority over others! He only SAID mean things to the Pharisees! He was a servant. The greatest among you is a servant to all. He used a child..the lowly on the social scale at that time to demonstrate what we must be like to inherit the kingdom. I can imagine that Patriarchal society, at that time, did not like that one bit.

I think tradition turned 'servanthood' into authority because sinful man wants it in his flesh. This has been continued using very bad translations. (There was a time slavery was condoned using scripture but we 'grew' out of that) It is a fleshly thing to want authority over others. We are to want love, truth, grace and holiness. Not authority.

We do a disservice to men in this teaching. So few can handle the power over another and over time it is a snare. It does not promote humility no matter how much they claim it does.

However, there is less confusion with mutual submission as taught by the Holy Spirit in Eph and other places...such as putting others above ourseleves. This leads us to examine ourselves that we are in the faith.

Lydia

scott gray said...

ellen--

get out of as many as possible, yes.

you can choose a religious paradigm without elders, or you can choose one where the folks in the pew choose the leadership.

you can choose to work for yourself, or work in a collaborative setting.

you can choose to home school if you wish, or collaborate with other parents.

and in the u.s., we at least make a concerted attempted to have the governed choose the leadership.

you notice i said some people are compelled to participate in hierarchies. and you noticed i said that if we do feel compelled, one moral responsibility we each have is to prophetically denounce abuse, and denounce tolerance of abuse.

isaiah, jeremiah, amos, and micah would agree with me, i think.

peace--

scott

Ellen said...

you can choose a religious paradigm without elders, or you can choose one where the folks in the pew choose the leadership.

Will you please show me in Scripture how elders were appointed?

Anonymous said...

"It is such a misunderstanding of true scripture to give human beings power over another."

oops...I must clear up this broad statement. I meant to say 'within the Body'. The world system is authoritarian and we are admonished to obey our leaders. Even Nero!

But, within the Body we are to be different...not like the Gentiles who love to lord it over. Our spiritual leaders (elders, pastors, etc) should look like the Beatitudes over time in living out their faith. That will tell us if they are spiritually mature. If they demand obediance and focus on who has the authority and power, it is not a good sign.

Lydia

scott gray said...

ellen--

it doesn't matter to me personally how the leaders in your religious paradigm are chosen, whether it's according to sacred writings or not. i'm not compelled to participate in your religious paradigm.

if i were, i would want the process to be that which resulted in the most moral and ethical configuration, regardless of what the sacred writings advised.

and i would want the sacred writings to prescribe discerning to the highest moral and ethical configuration possible, rather than to a specific governance model.

as lydia says, life in the body of christ is a different sort of configuration. and the beatitudes make a great creed.

peace--

scott

Corrie said...

Lydia,

"If they demand obediance and focus on who has the authority and power, it is not a good sign."

Yes, because this is what the pagans do and Christ said it was not to be so among His own. He told them that they are to be true servants, the lowest of the low.

Why does this matter so much? If a husband is serving his wife and daily dying to himself and putting his wife first and treating her better than his own person and the wife is doing the same, why would "who wears the pants in the family" even come into the picture?

This whole emphasis and obsession with who is in authority seems immature to me. This is what pagans are concerned about.

Lin said...

"Will you please show me in Scripture how elders were appointed?"

Acutally, it is a mixed bag. Some were appointed by Apostles...hopefully, you do not believe in Apostalic succession!

Some were appointed by the church planters like Timothy. Some were chosen by the local Body.

Some believe Diotrephes was an elder (a bad one).We know that Chloe's 'people' wrote Paul about problems in the churches. We also see that the Epistles are NOT written to specific elders but to the Body. (Except for the pastoral epistles and 2John which is written to a woman...even though everyone wants to deny it and 3 John written to Gaius)

It is interesting that very few names of elders or pastors are given in the NT. That could be a lesson for us.

In Acts 6, the Apostles told the 'mulitudes' to select 7 people among them as deacons. Can you imagine all those people agreeing on 7! But they did and it is ironic to see that many here Hellenistic Jews to deal with the problem in the first place!

In any true Body of Christ itis obvious who the true elders are. They are the ones that most closely resemble living out Matthew 5 and the qualifications in 1 Timothy, etc. In effect, in a true Body, the elders choose themselves by their spiritual maturity and humility because these things are recognized by the members of the Body.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Lydia, Ellen, Scott and everybody,

You are all friends and welcome here. Thank you for your support.

We all have emotional needs. I know I do.

I also have to work today. :-) I'll get back to this later.

Corrie said...

It seems strange to me that the comps/pats stress to us that men are more "aggressive", "assertive", "competitive" and given to anger because they are men and very different from women but yet they also want to claim that women physically abuse men as much as men physically abuse women? That just doesn't follow at all.

How is it that I turn on the radio, TV or read the news paper or talk with ER personnel and I get a much different picture?

Corrie said...

"After all, we are specifically speaking about men abusing women BECAUSE OF WARE'S STATEMENT ABOUT HOW MEN REACT IN VIOLENCE TO WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE "UNSUBMISSIVE" OR "CHALLENGE THEIR AUTHORITY".

I believe that Ware was speaking DESCRIPTIVELY NOT PRESCRIPTIVELY. HE EVEN SAID THAT ABUSE IS A SINFUL REACTION! (See, I can shout also.)"

Ellen,

It seems you missed my point again. I have no idea what your response has to do with what I stated.

I would truly like to see a mature discussion but it seems you do not want to engage the actual issues (that is why I used caps, for the emphasis because you kept on missing the point).

Corrie said...

Ellen,

Lin: "what emotional need do you have that allows you to use scripture to justify immoral behavior? "

Ellen: "You need to first prove to me that a Godly, loving man loving his wife as Christ loves the church is behaving in an immoral way. That has yet to be done."

Lin isn't calling a man loving his wife immoral. I am sure she was referring to Ware's statement justifying and making excuses for why an abusive man hits his wife.

You aren't claiming that this is part of what a man loving his wife like Christ entails, are you? I don't think that you do but I have to wonder why you would make the above statement in response to Lin's statement when you knew that Lin was referring to the issue of abuse.

Corrie said...

"Oh yes...let's. Like saying that Ware blames women (he calls abuse a SINFUL reaction) The men are still responsible and to blame for their sinful action and Ware never said anything different."

You and Ware are splitting hairs.

Isn't Ware really saying that a man wouldn't sin in this way if his wife hadn't "overturned" the roles and challenged his authority?

Yes, he said that the man's response to his wife's alleged challenge of his authority is sin but he is still saying that if the woman was not challenging his authority, he wouldn't respond to her in that way.

How can we totally refuse to see this point?


If I asserted that women spend to much money at the mall because their husbands neglect them and don't work at building an intimate marriage wouldn't it follow that a woman would not spend too much money at the mall if her husband were the kind of loving husband he should be?

I am thinking that this is only a logical conclusion based on my original statement. Can you really argue with this?

Ware said that husbands can respond in one of two ways to their authority-challenging wives: violence or passivity. Wouldn't it logically follow that husbands would NOT respond this way if their wives were NOT challenging their authority?

Lin said...

Y"es, he said that the man's response to his wife's alleged challenge of his authority is sin but he is still saying that if the woman was not challenging his authority, he wouldn't respond to her in that way. "

yes this was the whole point in the beginning. Thank you for clarifying.

"Ware said that husbands can respond in one of two ways to their authority-challenging wives: violence or passivity. Wouldn't it logically follow that husbands would NOT respond this way if their wives were NOT challenging their authority?"

There is a better way: Mutual submission. In mutual submission there are no wives usurping their authority and no husbands lording it over. Because they recognize that only Christ has the authority. Not some other fleshly depraved sinner such as themselves who is only saved by Grace yet fighting our flesh everyday.

Corrie said...

Lin,

I agree but I think it takes true Christian maturity to achieve such a truly self-GIVING relationship.

The pats are all about "servant leadership" but it is really about leading the servant (wife), not really about true servanthood that thinks nothing of itself or any supposed position of authority.

And before anyone says that I am off on the above, just look at Ware's statements in this post. He specifically said that it is the woman's position to seek to fulfill their husband's will, to do what their husbands want to do and to serve them and that it is NOT the position of the husband to do this things for his wife.

So, really, the whole "servant leadership" is a farce.

Negotiation and compromise and discussion is bad, according to Russel Moore. We are all in same-sex marriages if we don't follow their pattern for marriage.

A true comp marriage is one where the husband issues his edict and the wife happily obeys- no negotiation or "challenging of authority". This is what it all really boils down to. Don't challenge is just speak for "don't ask any questions, I have spoken". If it isn't why would Moore say that negotiation and compromise in marriage is not according to the comp model?

But, the Bible teaches that a husband is to be concerned about how he may please his wife (do what she would like to do) and that he is to lay aside his own will (not seek to have her fulfill his own will) and serve his wife as the lowest of slaves (not expect her to be the servant of his "needs" and his role one of being the recipient) after the pattern of Christ where he put on a towel and washed the feet of His disciples all the while not thinking about his supposed position. Because Christ, God in the flesh, did not consider equality with God (which He fully HAS) a thing to be grasped. How much more should a sinful human being not strive after some high and lofty position or consider it something to be grasped?

What comps/pats need to do is stop talking about the nebulous "servant leader" and start actually BEING like Christ and following His example.

He put aside all glory, honor and praise and His equality with God and become a lowly man for His Bride. How much more should a sinful man do the same for his bride?

Ellen said...


It seems you missed my point again. I have no idea what your response has to do with what I stated.



You "SHOUT" that the statement is about HOW MEN REACT...

Never mind. Seriously. If the thread is not about what Ware was actually attempting to say, what was meant and how different people take it...

Why don't you just tell me how it is I'm supposed to respond.

Ware's statement justifying and making excuses for why an abusive man hits his wife.

He wasn't


Lin: "what emotional need do you have that allows you to use scripture to justify immoral behavior? "


Corrie, maybe this is why you don't get what I'm responding to. It was Scott that asked that question - and didn't specify what "immoral behavior" I was using Scripture to justify.

Perhaps if you could try to keep track of what was writing what it would be a bit easier to figure out if I was actually addressing what somebody was saying?

Ellen said...


Perhaps if you could try to keep track of what was writing what


Sorry, that should be who was writing what...

Ellen said...

I'll try one more time - this time with a direct quote from the post, so please don't tell me it's off-topic.


Marriage failure, for complementarians, is one of the two patterns, the wife rebels against submission and the husband is either abusive or passive in response.


Ware (in the quote given) does not limit the patterns to two, nor does he limit the number of responses to two. He does label the two responses that he does list as sin - neither justifying those reactions, nor approving of them - but rather calling them "sin".

He is not justifying abuse, but rather is calling it sin He is not tolerating abuse, but is calling it sin.

That is my direct response to a direct quote in the direct post.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

The point is that these are the two causes of marriage failure in a doctrinal and theological sense for complementarians.

These two causes of marriage failure are considered scriptural, as an interpretation of Gen. 3:16. This is not the beginning of an unfinished list. This is IT.

I will post again on this topic to illustrate this point.

Ellen said...

Maybe you can give a more complete quote then, because I'm just not seeing the limitation to two.

Giving the depth of human depravity, I would hesitate to limit the number of ways a human couple can mess up a marriage.

Ellen said...

What I do see in the Ware quote is one possible breakdown in a complementarian marriage (although if the partners are not in agreement I'd have a hard time calling it complementarian) and two possible responses to that breakdown.

The one possible breakdown and two possible responses is not the limit of human depravity.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

This is not about one possible breakdown. This is the doctrinal application of Gen. 3:16. For complementarian theologians, this is the foundational breakdown between men and women. Women reject their role, sinfully, and men, sinfully, abuse women. This applies to the history of the world, the church, the family and every male/female relationship.

Bonnie said...

Ellen,

The teaching that male leadership is about a man "getting his way" is the distortion. A manager with the good of his company in mind will put his own interests aside for the good of the company.

Then Ware's words, as Sue quoted in the post, are the distortion. He equates the husband's authority with his will, and suggests that a wife who does not wish to subordinate her will to her husband's is a sinner, and her husband may react with abuse or passivity.

Just A Berean said...

Corrie wrote:
“The pats are all about "servant leadership" but it is really about leading the servant (wife), not really about true servanthood that thinks nothing of itself or any supposed position of authority. 

And before anyone says that I am off on the above, just look at Ware's statements in this post. He specifically said that it is the woman's position to seek to fulfill their husband's will, to do what their husbands want to do and to serve them and that it is NOT the position of the husband to do this things for his wife. 

So, really, the whole "servant leadership" is a farce.”

This hits the nail squarely on the head. We’ve been reading Ware’s theology enough to know that for him it is all about male dominance and control in all aspects of what he considers the important departments of life. Ware believes that life is all about the man and the woman is man’s supporter, servant, helper, assistant. The man isn’t there to fulfill or be concerned about the goals, desires, life purposes of the wife, rather she is there for him.

Ellen wrote:
What I do see in the Ware quote is one possible breakdown in a complementarian marriage (although if the partners are not in agreement I'd have a hard time calling it complementarian) and two possible responses to that breakdown.

The one possible breakdown and two possible responses is not the limit of human depravity.

Ware isn’t discussing the limits of human depravity. Rather he thinks that all the sources of which humans can err in the breakdown of marriage are centered around two things and both of those two things are the woman’s fault. It is the wife’s fault if she rebels against the husband’s authority because Ware believes the husband is always right to take authority over his wife. If a husband becomes abusive because a wife isn’t submissive enough, then the wife is the cause of the husband’s abusiveness because she wasn’t submissive enough. And in Ware’s view all other sins of which the marriage can fail have their root in those two things.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

A wife can never be submissive enough. We have the example from John Pipers blog here.

It is a great sadness that in our modern society the complementary roles of biblical headship for the husband and biblical submission for the wife are despised or simply passed over for fear of being called terrible names. Some people just write them off as sub-Christian cultural leftovers from the first century. Others distort and misuse them—I actually sat in my office once with a husband who believed that submission meant his wife should not go from one room to the other in the house without asking his permission.

Piper is a pastor so he knows that there is no limit to the amount of submission that a husband can demand. If this woman rebels and goes to a room without permission is she provoking the sinful reaction of her husband. This is exactly where submission to abuse lands you.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Why not try to prevent that state of affairs instead of deploring it.

Lin said...

"Giving the depth of human depravity, I would hesitate to limit the number of ways a human couple can mess up a marriage."

Which brings me to the question as to why Jesus would die on the Cross only to leave depraved earthly priests for adult Christian women? Or a 'layer' of authority between her and Christ?

It makes no sense. Men have no earthly layer of authority between them and Christ.

It makes no sense because that is NOT what scripture teaches. Scripture teaches a ONE FLESH UNION in marriage and Priesthood of the believer within the Body of Christ. All true believers are ministers and have anointing. All are gifted and have 'functions' within the Body led by the Holy Spirit..not a person...if they are a true Body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Some of us are being censored over at DennyBurkes blog. I responded to this:

"Please do look at this thread where Sue commits the root fallacy” in her lexical research.

Here’s are excerpts:

“Sue’s fantasies of interpretation arise out of the “etymological root fallacy,” an interpretive error common among the amateurs and those with special agendas.”

....But it was deleted. I found this comment interesting since Sue is referencing other well known theologians from time past that many of these men reverence when it is convenient.

The 'amateur' statement amused me. Didn't the Catholics use this argument during the Reformation? The peasants could never understand scripture so we must interpret it for them.

And all this time, I thought it was the Holy Spirit Who teaches us, illuminates truth and directs us to dig deep into the Word.

Lydia

Ellen said...

Which brings me to the question as to why Jesus would die on the Cross only to leave depraved earthly priests for adult Christian women? Or a 'layer' of authority between her and Christ?

Why would He die leaving a system of sinful elders as a layer between the congregation and Himself.

The only answer I need is:

Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.

Piper is a pastor so he knows that there is no limit to the amount of submission that a husband can demand. If this woman rebels and goes to a room without permission is she provoking the sinful reaction of her husband. This is exactly where submission to abuse lands you.

He also says that it's a misuse and unless you can give a quote from Piper approving of such a misuse, it carries little weight.

There are excesses on both sides and we all know it. If we fear the outcome based on the worst case scenario, I'll be assuming that all egalitarian women are selfish brats who are only looking out for "what-in-it-for-me" and egalitarian marriages are based on singles living together each one doing what's right for themselves. And I know that's the worst case scenario. So I don't argue that point.

Neither do Ware, Piper or the rest approve or teach that abuse is tolerable.

And with that, it's clear that only the worst will be believed so I'll stop before I get too frustrated.

Lin said...

"Why would He die leaving a system of sinful elders as a layer between the congregation and Himself."

He didn't. We have added the word 'office' to the translations and institutionalized them bringing in the worldly system of craving authority over others.
Elders are simply functions within the Body. They are NOT a layer between us and Christ. Jim Jones was an elder. So, we must be Bereans ourselves to discern false 'elders' like Diotrephes. It is a huge problem in the church these days. Some get to be elders because they are rich.

"The only answer I need is:

Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord."

Why leave out verse 21? This passage is NOT about hierarchies. It is about holiness. To make it into earthly hierarchies is insidious and a twisting of scripture.

Does verse 22 mean that wives should not reverence their husbands? Sacrifice for them? Does verse 21 exclude husbands who are not only husbands but a brother in Christ to their wife who is a sister in Christ to their husband within the Body?

"Neither do Ware, Piper or the rest approve or teach that abuse is tolerable."

Actually, no one said they did. They would be fools to do that. People would not buy into their check list religion of roles and rules if they did. Their speaking circuit would be over.

But they are teaching that women CAUSE the sinful abuse by not submitting. The problem is what the husband percieves as 'submission' or not. Who gets to define that on an everyday basis. The husband, of course. It is HIS will. That is what they teach. Not Christ's will for her life but her husbands will.

Scary stuff. These guys have gone right into Patriarchy. At least Moore admits it publicly.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I would like to point out that this post is called "The cause of abuse." Saying one act is a response to another act is just plain irresponsible.

Ellen said...

Why leave out verse 21?

I'm reading my own mail.

Lin said...

Why leave out verse 21?

I'm reading my own mail."

I have no idea what that is meant to communicate.

Corrie said...

I posted this on the wrong blog:

I would like to supply the quote by Moore concerning negotiation in marriage equalling feminism.

The reason why I think this important is because of what Ware said about a wife “challenging” her husband’s authority.

The pats/comps want to live unfettered in our wonderful democracy/republic where their own personal “rights” are never infringed upon but then they turn around and want to run their homes like dictators (one who tells people what to do and how to do it and when to do it and expects to see obedience to his commands) where they direct, command, and issue edicts and the good wife simply obeys because that is her “role”.

And I am sure that this is where some comps will give me the child question. You know the one where they ask us if we tell our children what to do and expect them to obey it. All I have to say is that they are children, women are adults (not children).

Negotiation simply means “discussion aimed at reaching agreement”. Moore believes that negotiation, concensus (harmony, solidarity) and mutual submission are NOT supposed to be part of a comp marriage. This is the stuff of a feminist agenda and of the egalitarian marriages.

I have no idea why comps are threatened by the concept of solidarity, harmony, agreement and discussion when coming to a decision. But, they obviously believe that a marriage isn’t biblical if these things are going on.

That means that a true comp marriage is one where the husband gives the orders and the wife does not “challenge her husband’s authority” as to not give him a reason to hit her.

“Likewise, in her Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life Oregon State
University sociologist Sally Gallagher interviews evangelical men and women across the
country and across the denominational spectrum and concludes that most evangelicals are
“pragmatically egalitarian.”6 Evangelicals maintain headship in the sphere of ideas, but
practical decisions are made in most evangelical homes through a process of negotiation,
mutual submission, and consensus.

That’s what our forefathers would have called “feminism”—and our foremothers,
too.

And yet Gallagher shows specifically how this dynamic plays itself out in
millions of homes, often by citing interviews that almost read like self-parodies. One 35-
year-old home-schooling evangelical mother in Minnesota says of the Promise Keepers
movement: “I had Mike go this year. I kind of sent him…. I said, ‘I’m not sending you to
get fixed in any area. I just want you to be encouraged because there are other Christian
men out there who are your age, who want to be good dads and good husbands.”7 This
“complementarian” woman doesn’t seem to recognize that she is “sending” her husband
off to be with those his own age, as though she were a mother “sending” her grade-school
son off to summer youth camp. Not surprisingly, this evangelical woman says she doesn’t
remember when—or whether—her pastor has ever preached on the subject of male
headship. ”

http://www.henryinstitute.org/documents/2005ETS.pdf

What is wrong with sending one’s husband off to a retreat? Maybe he is a workaholic and she sees this and knows that he needs to get away? Surely a woman can know what is best for her husband in the same way a husband can know what is best for his wife when it comes to blind spots?

These guys seem awfully over-sensitive about anything that appears to be challenging their “authority”. “How dare a woman think she can “send” her husband anywhere! The nerve of her!”

I know a highly patriarchal wife who told her pastor-husband that he “failed” to include scripture to back up his beliefs on courtship. How do I know this? Well, he wrote it on his own blog.

And that is exactly why Ware’s statement is dangerous. Even a simple question could be seen as a provocation and challenge.

Where does this “how dare you question me” attitude come into play when we look at the scriptures? We, as Christians, are supposed to be teachable and open to correction, are we not? Or does that not apply to husbands? Did I miss the exception clause?

This attitude is not a biblical attitude at all.

Corrie said...

"I would like to point out that this post is called "The cause of abuse." Saying one act is a response to another act is just plain irresponsible."

Suzanne,

Exactly!

Christianity is about self-government and our nation was founded on that principle.

It is no different than a rapist saying that a woman's skirt was the reason he responded to her by raping her.

Children whine. That is what they do. For an adult to claim that the child's whining caused them to respond with violence is the height of immaturity and inexcusible irresponsibility.

I am quite concerned the attitude behind some of these statements. When a man says something to his wife that is not right and she responds to it by telling him the truth, he is going to take it as a challenge to his "authority" if he is of this mindset. Couple this with Moore's attitude towards a couple who dicusses an issue in order to come to an agreement or concensus (solidarity/harmony) and you have a situation where the man talks and expects no "lip" from his woman.

This is the flesh, it is not God's design as Ware seems to think.

Basically, Ware asserts that men are either passive or violent because of women who don't know their place. The whole society is filled with weak, effeminate men and our churches are effeminate because women are too strong and women don't know their place.

I think I shall faint if a comp/pat actually takes responsibility and stops blaming the feminists (women) for all of their problems.

Charis said...

Sue said:
How can we present to Denny or any other complementarian who will listen how wrong the teaching of male authority is?

How can we come together even across our differences to affirm, whether we are traditional or egalitarian, that men and women should have equal authority in marriage.


Hi Sue,
Wow, what a lot of comments!

I think that we need to convince them that it is in their own best interests to set their wives free. I can understand how it could be really difficult and scary to give up the pre-eminence, but "those who lose their lives will find them". The fact is that women are not the only victims of this theology. The men who would play god are victims too. The children who are observing this before their eyes are victims. The divorce rate among Christians is sky high as marriages crumble under the weight of this. Feminism gets blamed. But feminism only opened the cage door.

I believe that the pressure is ON in these last days. Porn use and other addictions are rampant even among Christians! People USE addictions to try to meet their need for intimacy.

I think GOD allowed this state because GOD wants to bring on a NEW era within the church where marriages are RESTORED to Garden of Eden intimacy the way HE intends; where people look at the church and see marriages which are so attractive and so characterized by Christian love that it draws them to seek the tree of life which feeds that marriage. That kind of marriage can not and will not happen unless the man and the woman are a team- ruling together, not over one another, but over creation- and walking together in intimacy with one another and with God: naked and unashamed (which is about transparency and deliverance from shame and curses).

Grace and Peace,
Gem

Corrie said...

Ellen,

"Lin: "what emotional need do you have that allows you to use scripture to justify immoral behavior? "

Corrie, maybe this is why you don't get what I'm responding to. It was Scott that asked that question - and didn't specify what "immoral behavior" I was using Scripture to justify.

Perhaps if you could try to keep track of what was writing what it would be a bit easier to figure out if I was actually addressing what somebody was saying?"

This was rude and uncalled for.

Go back to your original statement and you will see how I could have made that error since you were speaking directly to Lin in that comment. You did not reference Scott at all so it looked like you were responding to Lin since you used her name.

I am hardly confused about who is saying what. I was speaking directly to your statement about how a man loving his wife is not immoral. Obviously NO ONE thinks that, so I challenged you on that particular statement. Again, no answer.

You are not dealing with the issues at hand and when I ask a question you do not answer that question, but say things that don't seem to follow at all. I notice this on Denny's blog, too.

I am not the only one having trouble understanding where you are coming from in some of your responses to our direct questions.

I will make sure that I am more careful in the future.

Bonnie said...

Ellen,

Twice I have pointed out Ware's double standard, his calling a wife a sinner merely for not wishing to subordinate her will to her husband's, his equation of the husband's will with his authority (wrongly), and his prescription that a husband be narcissistic and exploitative of his wife. I also pointed it out in the thread at Denny Burk's blog. Others have as well, at length.

You've responded either by not engaging with this directly or by saying that Ware was not really saying what he was clearly saying. What you call a misinterpretation of complementarian teaching, or of Ware's teaching, is indeed exactly what he said in the quote Sue posted.

Why?

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond
to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course,
one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged, or more
commonly by becoming passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the
leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.

Ware it seems doesn't understand the definition of what abusive is. He is using what people call a 'myth' definition. That is where he is getting himself into trouble. True abusers have a pattern of behavior. Its not being a jerk one day, and lashing out towards their spouse on occasion. Being labeled an abuser means you have a pattern of behavior that is abusive.

When you have a person that has a pattern of behavior of being abusive - then his statement is offensive, and really shows ignorance towards what abusive natures truly mean. Why? A true abusive person doesn't need an excuse! They are also going to LOVE what he said, and run with it!

People with a true abusive nature don't have to feel their role is being upsurped. Burning dinner and not being able to read their minds is all it takes. What they want and need from day to day changes, and you are expected to figure that out without being told.

Anyone that understands the true definition of what being abusive is compared to the myth type that Ware uses knows he comment is ungrounded, and completely off the mark!

The myth definition has been overused in the past, and people have ended up dead. Being submissive or not isn't going to cause the abusive person to lash out. The abusive person is going to lash out because their pattern of behavior shows they are abusive. You can't MAKE someone abusive! Its choice! Abusive people can be healed, but they also have to face the music of their past sins.

Can a whining child trigger an abusive person to lash out? Yep! A NON whining child can also cause an abusive person to lash out as well! Why? An abusive person doesn't need a rational excuse - they are just are.

True abusive people are going to use the excuse of their spouse NOT being submissive. Why? They are known for twisting scripture to fit their needs. They will also tell their children = sorry I was to hard on you during the whipping but if you were not whining you may not have gotten that hard!

From the standpoint of those that understand the definition of what abusive means - and clearly Ware's ignorance towards what it means is where you hit the rub.

I mean how often do you tell a spouse of an alcoholic that if they were nicer to them that day they may not have gotten drunk? Generally, people aren't going to say that. Why? Most people know alcoholics don't need an excuse! Triggers are excuse.